By Eileen Murphy
Tavern on the Green was the party destination after the opening of "Moon for the Misbegotten" last Sunday evening. After giving a stellar performance, and receiving a seemingly endless standing ovation from the audience, the cast, crew and hundreds of well-wishers headed for the Central Park landmark for some well-earned revelry.
The Irish contingent were out in full force to support fellow countryman Gabriel Byrne’s latest project. Sitting at one table in the main room were "Riverdance" producers Moya Doherty and John McColgan, with actress Dearbhla Molloy, former (and forever) "Late Late Show" host Gay Byrne and RTE journalist Siobhan Cleary.
We caught up with Gaybo, dapper as ever in a royal blue dinner jacket, and asked what he’d thought of the show.
"It was absolutely marvelous," he said, in that familiar, beautifully modulated voice. "Gabriel Byrne was just fantastic, as were the rest of the cast."
We asked if he missed the grind of the daily radio show and the weekly chatfest.
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"I am astonished at how much I do not miss it," he said conspiratorially. "I am astonished, now, that I had time to do the radio and television shows back then — I’m so busy now."
So, would he be getting back in the saddle anytime soon?
"Yes, I’ve got a few television projects in the works," he admitted.
We asked how his motorcycle lessons were progressing.
"Ah, you mean am I riding the Harley Davidson bike that Bono and Larry gave me?" he said. (Hey, it’s hard to interview the king of all interviewers.)
"Well, I’ve logged over 1,600 hours on the bike," he said with a touch of pride. "What’s funny is that when I’m dressed in all the gear — the helmet, the leather jacket, the boots — nobody recognizes me. They think I’m a bike messenger."
The anonymity is both a blessing and a curse.
"On the one hand, I’m free to move about as I please," he said. "But on the other, I have drivers constantly cutting me off in traffic, which is dangerous," he said soberly. "Car drivers have no consideration for bikes," he added indignantly.
We bumped into Molloy later in the party — she was very elegant in a black lace Dolce & Gabbana suit with flesh-toned lining — and asked how she was enjoying her New York visit.
"I just love it here, and, of course, the show was terrific tonight," she said. "It’s also such a festive time — there’s nothing like St. Patrick’s Day in New York City."
Molloy will be spending more time in New York in the near future. Nothing’s official yet, but we hear that she’ll be starring in the revival of "Juno and the Paycock" at the Roundabout Theater this spring.
The buzz in the room ratcheted up a few hundred degrees when stars Gabriel Byrne and Cherry Jones arrived at the party. Jones, who played the big-boned earth mother Josie Hogan in the play, looked sleek and elegant in a black outfit and tasteful pearls.
Familiar faces — the kind one usually sees in the gossip pages of glossy magazines — were all around. Since it’s not polite to whip around and stare, we accidentally-on-purpose dropped our notebook in the foyer. As we bent to retrieve it, we spied Roseanna Arquette, Gabriel Byrne’s ex-wife, Ellen Barkin, and Barkin’s fiance, Ron Perelman making their way across the carpet to congratulate the Irish actor.
Byrne, rakishly handsome in a blue suit (no tie) projected an aura of star power and old-fashioned Hollywood glamour. To our amusement, we could see an endless stream of attractive women queuing up to congratulate him — personally (who could blame them?), which slowed his progress through the room. He took it all in stride, and was gracious to a fault. We jumped yet another line of sweet young things and asked him how he felt about doing a Broadway show.
"Well, it’s every actor’s ambition to perform on a Broadway stage," he replied. "It’s such a great experience, and to be able to do such a terrific play . . . " his voice trailed off as more hands reached out to shake his.
And was it hard maintaining the American accent, we wondered. Byrne’s performance was flawless — if we hadn’t known he was from Dublin, we’d never have guessed.
"One of the important things about my character was that he was American — he couldn’t have an Irish accent," Byrne answered. "I had to make sure that he was completely American — a New England Yankee in fact — so I worked hard to make sure that the voice was right."
Byrne’s quick ear for accents has been apparent in his films, where he’s played a convincing Russian character and assorted Americans. But he feels strongly about using his native Irish accent whenever possible.
"I feel it’s important to sound Irish, and not cover it up," he said. "In some parts, OK, you have to use a regional accent, one that makes sense for the character. But whenever I can, I use my own accent. It adds another dimension to the character, and I think it’s important for people to hear that."
The crowd around Byrne had grown, and we knew he had many hands to shake and many people to meet before he got a bite of food. We thanked him for his time and, shouldering through the throng of admirers, managed to squeeze out of the crowd. Fame, we could see, is a racket only for the strong.
Rushdie skewers Wenders
Paul McGuinness was in town for the Broadway debut of "Riverdance," since he’s RD composer Bill Whelan’s manager and also the owner of the record label that spins its own gold in the form of RD soundtrack CDs.
In addition to telling us that the new U2 album is due out in September and that his "Freedom of Dublin" will allow him to graze his sheep on Stephen’s Green, he gave us the ska on U2 collaborators Salaman Rushdie and Win Wenders.
"You know, Rushdie wrote the lyrics for the new single, ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet,’ which is also the title of his latest book," said McGuinness. (We refrained from telling him that THAT scoop had been in our column a year ago.)
"Around that time Rushdie was writing the novel, he met Wim Wenders, who was working on the movie," said McGuinness. "Rushdie didn’t like him much, and he actually wrote Wenders into the novel — as a very unpleasant character. He changed the name, of course, so it’s a guessing game. But he’s in there."
"Ironically, of course, the song is on the soundtrack for the movie ‘Million Dollar Hotel,’ which was directed by Wenders," he continued with a mischievous grin.
The cuties from Irish girl band B*Witched are able to afford the coolest designer clothes these days, but they’re determined to stay true to their denim-clad constituency.
The band has been offered their pick of free couture clothes by fashion giant Gucci, whose cutting-edge designs are coveted by fashionistas the world over. But the level-headed Irish stars feel it would put terrible pressure on their fans.
"We’ve always had a denim theme because we thought it was accessible for the fans," said singer Sinead O’Carroll.
"You see lots of them wearing the same clothes as us at the concerts," she explained. "If we suddenly started parading around in Gucci, how would they relate to that?"
We applaud B*Witched’s sense of responsibility to their young fans, and we want Sinead, Edele and all the rest to know: we share your pain. We can’t count the number of times we’ve had to turn down free designer duds just so that we could remain in touch with our beloved readers. Rest assured, we’ll never sell out – SO, HEY, DONNA KARAN, GO BACK TO CALLING YOUR PAL BARBRA. Calvin, go put your name on someone else’s skivvies. And Ralph, just forget about (well, actually, Ralph, you can call us on our unlisted number. Just don’t tell Todd.)
Bono, by George
Bono fanatics (and you know who we . . . er, you . . . are) will want to pick up the April issue of George magazine. The U2 frontman is this month’s coverboy, and he chats with interviewer Richard Blow about his efforts to erase Third World debt, his feelings about early U2 songs and the whole rock star thing.
One of his more interesting comments concerns the anthemic, and often misunderstood, "Sunday Bloody Sunday."
"That was a religious outburst, contrasting the idea of Easter Sunday with the Easter Sunday when British paratroopers shot dead 13 protesters. It was naïve. A lot of our work in the ’80s was very naïve. But I like that now. It’s ecstatic music. It has a sense of wonder and a joy about it . . ."